CodeWeavers does more than just advocate Linux. The company is the leading corporate backer of an open-source initiative that makes it possible for Linux PCs to run Windows.
Minneapolis-based CodeWeavers does more than just advocate Linux. The company is the leading corporate backer of the Wine Project, an open-source initiative that makes it possible for Linux PCs to run Windows. Founder Jeremy White chats about software, systems, and loving the underdog.
How did the company get started?
CodeWeavers was actually first founded as a general-purpose consultancy. However, I always felt that it was hollow, and that it needed a proper mission. So, one day, while looking for an Atari 2600 emulator, I came across the Wine Project. I thought it was the coolest and most audacious effort I’d ever seen. Here was a ragtag bunch of developers trying to replicate the core IP of the most powerful software company on the planet.
I was tired of doing work that didn’t have any meaning beyond my paycheck, so I decided to refocus CodeWeavers around the Wine Project, in the hope that our work could make a difference in the world. Fortunately, many of the best Wine hackers agreed to come with me, and that’s how we started.
Why do you feel that your software is needed right now?
I feel strongly that the computing world has stagnated while Microsoft has had a monopoly on the operating system market. I think that there are far more interesting things that technology can do for the world, and that the Windows monopoly has retarded new developments.
By making it possible for people to adopt Linux, I feel we make it possible to introduce true diversity into the computer landscape. However, the grim reality is that in order to adopt Linux, users need to run Windows programs. That’s where we come in.
Do you think that the rise of Linux will make Microsoft rethink its licensing fees?
Eventually, yes, I think it will have to. And I think it will be good for the world, because it will make Microsoft a better company. Microsoft produces great software; imagine if they truly had to compete on cost and quality!
What has the reaction to your software been?
I have been amazed at how overwhelmingly positive the response has been. Our customers have been incredibly supportive, and even those people who choose not to buy our software, because it doesn’t work for them yet, generally root us on. I think that everyone loves the underdog.
Do you think that with the rise of so many commercial applications that Linux can still retain its independent feel?
I think it will always retain its independent, community-based roots. However, I think that the rise of so many different applications and flavors of Linux is bound to dilute the “feel” of Linux overall. But that’s a good thing. The farther Linux spreads, the more different people it will serve, and the more diluted it will feel. Kinda like a free market, actually.
What does CodeWeavers see for the future?
Well, our goal is clear: We want to make Linux into a fully Windows-compatible operating system. You should be able to go to CompUSA, buy any software you want, bring it home and put it in your Linux computer, and have it just work.
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